Did you know that your immune system reflects your life expectancy? This isn’t a universal truth, but it works in today’s era when unhealthy eating habits and the least workout are degrading people’s health. Thus, it is significant to try all possible ways to improve health and well-being, and the Wim Hof Breathing Method can be helpful.
The Iceman, Wim Hof, is an athlete and a motivational speaker. But what popularized him the most was his ability to withstand extremely cold temperatures. The man has also engraved his name in the Guinness World Record for swimming under the ice.
The Wim Hof breathing method combines three components, and those include breathing, cold therapy, and, of course, commitment. Following this breathing method will help you improve your immunity and well-being. So, who is Wim Hof, and what is the Wim Hof breathing method and its benefits?
Let’s have a look!
Who is Wim Hof?
The Dutch motivational speaker and athlete well-known as The Ice Man by those who follow him also holds a world record for running a half marathon barefoot, on snow and ice. He was witnessed climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in shorts and covered with ice cubes in a container, standing for about 112 minutes.
It was his extensive training and the assimilation with nature that led him to survive in extremely cold temperatures that may have a worse effect on the health of a common person. This strict training has now made Hof capable of controlling his heart rate, breathing, and blood circulation, apart from surviving the extremities of the cold environment.
What Made Wim Hof: The Infamous Iceman
Wim Hof has several achievements that can be considered extraordinary, as it is nearly impossible for a normal human being to achieve those feats. Hof has about 21 Guinness World Records to date, and we believe that the number can grow further.
Wim Hof Achievements
- Wim Hof swam underneath the ice for about 66 meters.
- He ran a half marathon barefoot with only shorts, above the Arctic Circle.
- He has climbed the highest peaks globally; his shorts were the only companion.
- We have also seen Hof hanging on just one finger, and that too at an altitude of about 2,000 meters.
- He also stood in a container holding ice cubes for a long period.
- Wim Hof ran a complete marathon in the Namib Desert without drinking and completed it fully.
What is Wim Hof’s Breathing Method, and How Does It Work?
Three significant components together constitute Wim Hof’s breathing method. It includes- Proper Breathing, Cold Therapy, and Full Commitment.
1. Proper Breathing
Normal breaths can never achieve this immunity. One needs to follow the special breathing techniques of Wim Hof. The breathing technique he gave combines deep breaths and inhalations and then holding the breath frequently. This breathing method should be followed for several rounds and can be practiced anywhere; you don’t need a particular place for that.
2. The Cold Therapy
Exposing oneself to cold temperatures does the work here. What Wim Hof advocates here for cold therapy is immersing yourself in cold waters frequently or taking cold showers. The temperature does not affect much if the breathing exercises discussed above are practiced right before the cold exposure. The initial showers and immersions can be miserable for you, but the moment you adapt, it will all be normal.
3. Full Commitment
You can control your body if you already establish control over your mind. It involves the commitment and focus that we see in meditation. Here, the core focus is on self-awareness and mindfulness of the individual. But how does one get fully committed? Well, the breathing methods and the cold showers we talked about earlier help here. If you follow these steps well, you will finally achieve the commitment required.
Wim Hof Breathing Method: Notes For Beginners!
If you are just a beginner to Wim Hof’s breathing method and haven’t yet practiced it, you must be extra careful before its initiation. Following the breathing technique, this way can help.
- First, find a safe and comfortable place to practice this method, then get into position. You may sit or lie down for this.
- Start breathing as slowly as you can and fill up your lungs and stomach with the fresh air you inhale.
- Now, you have to exhale, but don’t do it frantically; follow how it feels right.
- You must then continue breathing in and breathing out about 20-30 times. If it is your first time, you can continue it for a little less time.
- While exhaling your breath for the final time, make sure that you hold onto your breath for as long as possible for you.
- Then again, breathe after you get uncomfortable and hold your breath for a few seconds.
- Repeating and practicing these steps will make you an expert in the Wim Hof breathing method.
Do keep in mind that if you ever feel any discomfort while practicing this technique, then you must immediately stop. You may not want to worsen the situation here. Take immediate medical help if your discomfort increases.
How Does the Wim Hof Breathing Method Benefit You?
Many of Wim Hof’s students have followed his special breathing method to achieve immunity. Others have also been following him as a popular and inspirational figure and also followed his methods of health improvement. If you, too, try this breathing method, then you will-
1. Enhances Your Tolerance to Extreme Temperatures
The deep breathing and frequent breath-holding method give you the immunity to withstand cold weather. Practicing these kinds of breathing modes allows you to stay calm and relaxed in cold conditions. This will make the extreme cold weather normal for you.
You must be aware that your body constricts the blood vessels close to the skin surface while being exposed to cold temperatures to conserve the heat within. Practicing the controlled breathing method of Wim Hof can cause the blood vessels to dilate, enhancing the blood flow and distribution of heat in the body.
2. Improves your Immunity
Have you ever wondered what made Wim Hof withstand? His immune system is now strong enough to adapt to any such conditions. The controlled breathing method provided by Wim Hof influences a person’s ANS or what we call the Autonomic Nervous System. This system of our body also keeps an eye on our immune system. This method can help in the reduction of inflammation and also keeps stress in control.
The breathing exercise presented by Wim Hof also increases the release of Epinephrine and Norepinephrine, the stress hormones that are equally helpful during a stressful situation. This release can also improve a person’s immune response.
3. Reduces Stress and Anxiety
It is always advised to take deep breaths whenever you feel stressed or depressed, as it calms you for the moment. Even cold showers do the same. It is also said that feel-good chemicals, endorphins, are released when one does these deep breathing and breath retention techniques.
In scientific terms, the rest-and-digest system of our body, or the parasympathetic nervous system, promotes the relaxation of body systems. Also, it enhances calmness, and Wim Hof’s breathing technique is a promoter of this condition.
4. Improve Blood Circulation
Practicing deep breathing, as Wim Hof’s technique, involves deep breathing, which further enhances and increases oxygen intake in our body. This improved oxygenation of blood improves blood circulation. Earlier, we also learned how breathing leads to blood vessel dilation, further improving blood circulation.
The influence of this breathing method on the Autonomic Nervous System and the increase in the heart rate leads to better blood flow in our body, improving blood circulation. The method may also increase blood alkalinity to enhance circulation.
5. Improves Focus and Energy
If a person does not feel stressed and is relaxed in all situations, then this will improve their focus and, of course, energy. The release of Endorphins reduces stress, and people feel positive. This feeling provides positive energy and also reduces distractions to improve a person’s focus.
Focus also improves when one practices commitment or meditation with breathing and cold exposure. Self-awareness is a significant aspect here, and one who has learned about himself will achieve the focus required.
6. Provides Better Sleep
With the reduction of stress and increased amount of feel-good hormones, Wim Hof’s breathing method also provides better sleep to many practitioners. Meditation has also been proven to be a relaxing agent and provides positivity and peacefulness.
The method also improves the oxygenation of blood vessels and other cells, thus improving health. And, of course, a healthy body and healthy mind will surely provide a better sleep cycle.
Risks Contained in Wim Hof Breathing Method
Although the Wim Hof breathing method seems to be a healthy practice, if not done under supervision, it may lead to difficult, dangerous situations. Thus, proper precaution is required before following this method. The following risks can be involved while practicing Wim Hof’s breathing method-
- Risk of Severe Cold Exposure: Wim Hof’s breathing technique required exposure to extremely cold temperatures. One who practices the breathing method well may survive this cold, but those with a weaker immune system may get exposed to respiratory problems and related diseases.
- Problems Related to Hyperventilation: If Wim Hof’s breathing method is not performed well, then rapid and deep breathing may lead to hyperventilation. This can make the person feel dizzy and may even faint or get unconscious while performing it. Even loss of breath can be a problem here.
- Risks During Pregnancy: This breathing retention method should not be practiced by pregnant women as any respiration-related problem can present a dreadful situation for the baby in her womb. Not just breathing, but even extreme cold exposure can cause risks during pregnancy as both the child’s and mother’s health are involved.
The significance of body and brain exercises is escalating these days, and one can find many such breathing techniques and body exercises that claim to improve heart conditions, balance hormones, improve respiration, healthy lungs, and, of course, a well-functioning gut.
The Ice Man, Wim Hof, provided the Wim Hof breathing method, and we have discussed in detail how you can practice this method, what health and wellness benefits you can get, and the risks involved and precautions to be taken. The man has his share of followers who follow this method with dedication and suggest others do the same.
So, if you are determined to follow this method and wish to become and achieve even a bit of what Wim Hof has, go through our beginners’ guide to practice it and get the desired benefits.
Frequently Asked Questions
When Should I Use the Wim Hof Method?
Wim Hof’s method includes breathing exercises, which provide the most benefit when practiced on an empty stomach. So, if you follow this breathing technique early in the morning when you haven’t had breakfast yet, you may get the maximum benefit.
Is Wim Hof Breathing Good for the Heart?
We discussed earlier how the Wim Hof breathing method improves blood circulation, leads to blood oxygenation, and reduces stress and anxiety. All these smaller benefits can improve your heart condition as it involves all these aspects. However, people already suffering from heart-related diseases should only practice this method under supervision or after consulting an expert.
Are There Any Long-Term Benefits of the Wim Hof Breathing Method?
Practicing Wim Hof’s breathing method frequently can help with depression and anxiety as it is believed to be a relaxing practice that calms both your mind and body and reduces any stress feeling. This method helps maintain complete focus, which could be a long-term benefit for people facing easy distractions.